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Showing posts from April, 2011

La Manga

Yesterday we took our guests out to La Manga. We ate patatas bravas, watched the kitesurfers and drove over the bascule bridge that allows taller yachts to get into the Mar Menor before turning around and heading back to Cabo de Palos.
La Manga is a sandbar about 19 kms long that separates a coastal lake - the Mar Menor - from the Mediterranean proper. It is an odd environment.
In the 1950s a chap called Tomás Maestre Aznar set about buying up the whole strip and with a bit of political support and a few court cases by the start of the 60s he was ready to put his master plan into action; to build a major tourist destination in Murcia. The first photo shows La Manga in 1963.
Tomás intended to build a private development aimed at the monied elite with a capacity for about 70,000 people. He wasn't going to urbanise the whole strip but wanted to conserve the original nature of the sand bar outside the walls of his complex. None of the biographies I can find on the Internet say quite w…

Left a bit, right a bit

The man scanned the paperwork. It must have been the name that was the giveaway "Do you speak Spanish?," he asked. We do, well, well enough for this situation at least. Anyway I'm sure that it could all have been done in mime if needs be.

Yesterday Maggie's Mitsubishi passed its ITV, the equivalent of the British MOT, for the second time in its six year life. Once a car is four years old here it becomes due its first test. After that it's once every two years till the car is ten and then it becomes annual.

I've described the system before from the experience with my MG down at Redován in Alicante whilst the Mitsu took its first test in Ciudad Rodrigo in Salamanca. First time for any of us in Murcia though.

So far as I can tell private companies gain the licence to run a test centre in a particular geographical location and it seems that the charge also varies from place to place - market forces and all that. The system is different from the UK one in that the…

Avoiding my homework

Easter is big in Cartagena. During Holy Week the brotherhoods, generally dressed in the tall Klu Klux Klan type hats, parade with military precision through the streets, often in the dead of night, to muffled drum beats whilst carrying huge carved religious statues on their backs.

My language exchange pal, Carlos, told me a story about how one of the statues, Saint Peter, was maintained by the Navy. In order to pay for the upkeep of the float, for the costumes and other paraphernalia he is employed by the Navy and receives a salary. At Easter he gets his only shore leave of the year. An admiral sends him on his way with strict instructions to be back by midnight. But Saint Peter doesn't do as he's told and when he gets back to barracks he's drunk - he sways from side to side and he gets locked in the brig till next Easter for his disobedience.

It sounded like a strange story and one at odds with what I understood to be the sobriety of the events with floats called "th…

Turn right by the insurance office

I don't usually answer my phone when I'm teaching but ham fistedness on the buttons meant that I did the other day. It was a bit embarrassing as I exposed my doggerel Spanish to the listening students.

The phone call was from a parcel carrier who was coming to collect some orange juice in a cool box bound for Germany. As we were talking on the phone I gave street names and described features. Suddenly I knew he was in the right place - ah yes, there's the bank and the travel agent and the old warehouse - got it, oh, and the house number is in a big circle on the glass door - I left him to park his van, at least in my mind, and got back to the present perfect.

When I finished the lesson I rang Maggie to make sure the delivery had gone smoothly. It turned out that they still hadn't called. Then it dawned on me. The carrier was following my directions on Google Street View.

It just didn't seem Spanish somehow.

Spoiling the view

It's called the Crisis here rather than the Recession or the Credit Crunch. A whole country teetering on the brink whilst some overpaid fat cats at Moody's or Standard and Poor's play with plus signs and their ABC to make some of their pals even richer.

The text books I use at work to teach English include several topics over and over again - holidays, music, food and work. I've learned not to ask "What's your job?" So many of my students, young and old alike, are without work and so I've altered the questions to give them at least the linguistic opportunity to maintain their dignity.

The current Spanish President said today that he won't be standing for re-election and the various new demands placed on the Spanish banks to placate the World's financial elite have Maggie's bank struggling after the scale of its debts scared off some potential merger partners the other day.

Whether it's persistent stories of spending cuts or individual …